Sunday, September 30, 2007

Brightcove personal Videojournalism films

In one year as I recall I made nearly 500 videojournalism stories. Phew!

At the last conservative estimate at the studio I had some 800 beta tapes, 150 digibetas, 700 dvcam and countless VHS - that's a lot of stories, but I'll spare myself the embarrassement and try and be a bit more critical.

So here are some of the stories that are on which I have now migrated to Brightcove, whose compression codec compared to Youtube is streets ahead.

Eventually the films should provide an interesting time line in videojournalism's many styles, which starts of looking like traditional TV before, something else...

The few uploaded thus far are more promo orientated, (something I enjoy doing from working in Soho) but here's the link, where a number of films I had to split into two for yourtube to get the compression right can now be viewed in their entirety. The Ferrari film for once doesn't come out looking like chewing gum.

At some point, I'll produce the Making of the film in Cairo between Robb Montgomery and me..

Great films online - go watch

Go vote for Hillman. Soldiers has made it into the finals of 800 International shorts entered in filminute 07

Probably one of the nicest, talented individuals, you'll ever meet.

I'm so much one of his biggest fans.

From pioneering Flash design to now some of the best online films you'll see anywhere, Hillman does it like no one else.

It's the simplicity, elegance, magic. . .

Here for his Film, "Soldiers"

Here for my interview with Hillman

Tip 109 video journalism

Black Hawk Down - a master class in video journalism, though Dir.Ridley Scott uses multiple cameras. It's even rumoured Scott had photojournalists on set as advisers. David occasionally cites this film to advanced video journalists as in this article for the UK's industry press gazette: In the Frame of Video Journalism

Most writers have a favourite writer they admire whose work they often ape for style and rhythm.

Most artists (painters) study the classics looking for clues to aid their own work.

Many musicians often start off learning the 'picks' of their idols

If you want to learn video journalism, first thing I would advise is pick a director or a show whose films turn you on.

Then watch it not as a viewer would, but as a technician.

By that, attempt to deconstruct their knitting style in the way the camera moves, the angles of shots established and the sequences.

Often when I watch one of my favourite directors I go into predictive mode.

My aim is to see if I can get into the head of their film, ask questions of their narative.

It's obvious I won't get anywhere near enough the shot directions right, but the execise opens me up to a different perspective of the director's house style.

Video Journalism is far from Television
Video journalism, unlike TV which follows a well worn format, has more fluidity about it.

You are the camera-director; something an increasing number of contemporary big directors have been doing for a while e.g. Mike Figgis, Steven Soderbergh, Robert Rodriguez.

And the truth is it's far more liberating to map out your own shot threads, which in turn should make you a stronger director working with a camera crew.

So next time you're off to the cinema or having a late night in; pick up some pop corn paper and pen.

Remember copying someone's work ( not plagiarism) is some kind of flattery. It worked for Tarrantino and Rodriguez

University lecturers of the 21st Century - Data Intermediaries

There is a romantic ideal I have of universities which borders on the Aristotlean.

Ampitheatres with lecturers and students exchanging views which cover a breadth of subjects, tutorials where students swap roles with lecturers, and greater links between academia and industry, where we oscillate from one to the other.

The University of Lancashire's case links its academic institution with Johnston Press one of the most successful news publishers, to examine the newsroom of the future.

And there's more, which it would be wrong to talk about now.

So the question I wanted to know was what might universities look like in the decades ahead?

The Vice Chancellor of the University of Westminster, Dr Geoffrey Copland, since retired claimed universities were one of the few places that had not embraced the Net revolution, comparing it to the travel industry where you can do almost anything online.

I discovered his views from being asked to present at Digital Hollywood and made this short film - The Future of Universities.

Full article and short interviews with senior educationists e.g. Dr Elizabeth Goodman here

In this edited short film Dr Copland mentions the ff:

  • Student working from a home base

  • No face to face lectures

  • There will be celebrity lectures

  • Students will devise their own curriculum

  • Students may opt for a full degree or part of a degree

  • They may take modules and cash in their credits later, so a degree could take any length of time

  • Lectures, notes will be open source ideas

  • With the wealth of information, lecturers may occupy a role of data intemediaries- sifting what's relevant for students

  • We live in interesting times. What do you think?

    NB Views expressed here are in no way a reflection of David's current university and its policies. These views are personal.

    Saturday, September 29, 2007

    England's World Cup star

    I rang my aunt and uncle to congratulate them on the success of their son, Paul Sackey, England's emerging World Cup star.

    I have never met Paul, but like many proud Brits watched the game yesterday, cheering the side.

    This morning I put a call in and my aunt in a measured voice said: " The News of the World are here".

    My Aunt and Uncle are really lovely people, and it doesn't matter whether you work in the media or not, you've a relationship that needs some managing.

    Paul's story is likely to catch the imagination of any news-sports organisation. He started playing Rugby very late, at 16 and was placed in a position very different from where he is now.

    I look forward to reading the piece tomorrow.

    Media Storm photo essay doc wins emmy

    MediaStorm Wins Emmy for Outstanding Broadband Documentary
    In Kingsley's Crossing, a 23-year-old lifeguard from the impoverished town of Limbe, Cameroon, dreams of a better life in Europe. He embarks on a harrowing journey that takes him halfway across Africa.
    Photojournalist Olivier Jobard documents the passage.

    David writes:
    This is an outstanding piece of work for its craftsmanship and simplicity.

    Its strenght lies in the powerful synching of photography and narrative. Which goes to the show how easily you can make videojournalism redundant.

    The added quality of this film compared to video would be its bandwidth size

    Friday, September 28, 2007

    Secretless Society

    Trailer: A world with no secrets speaking to senior Intelligence men.

    The very idea that everything is availabe on the net, that there are no more secrets, everything is open source

    Successor Generation - Videojournalism's 7up

  • David shooting with a Digi700 camera for a Channel 4 News feature from South Africa

  • It is an incredible feeling as a journalist, sociologist, or an interested party to see change within a nation take shape before you.

    The Civil Rights Movement of the US, Glastnost and Perestroika in Eastern Europe, Thatcherism and the politics of self - these provided genuine reflections of our changing attitudes.

    Often documenting them yields first time rough drafts; a snap shot of history by the hand of the achitect.

    Nonetheless they are visual documents for new generations to ponder.

    Truth, I don't by any stretch think so grandiosely about this work or others.

    But watching this film - a version of which was made for Channel 4 News - is a strong advocacy for videojournalism and  why we must persevere to tell non ageneda stoies.

    The Successor Generation
    In 1999 working as a freelance producer at Channel 4 News, I learnt the programme had no plans of reporting South Africa, five years on from its historical elections.

    The most would be a short report from the studio.

    So I did what many others I feel would do with 18 months prior experience reporting from the region in 1994.

    In that year BBC Radio 4 commissioned me to make a documentary following the lives of four South Africans.

    They were about to vote in their first election.

    That documentary proved a huge success, which is why I went back and shot this piece.

    There's lots today I would have done differently. That's progress.

    But what they have to say here is still relevant today as it was back then.

    Thursday, September 27, 2007

    Death is tragic, and the living suffer - Burma

    Here we go, the mental template for reporting uprisings, worth a line or two only when there are deaths.

    Please don't minsunderstand me, it is a tragedy which is inconsolable for those directly affected, family and friends.

    But it shouldn't take a newsroom editor a head count to decide: "Ok lets run with that story now".

    It's this bizarre notion of news management that we've consumed as the norm, which in turn gets passed down a generation. I hope not, at least not in my lecturers.

    Underlining this indexing, is that old chesutnut: if it bleeds it leads.

    There's been so much attention attached to this, and Burma is no exception, but I'm sure a poll would reveal, that in comparison, there's been little said why there are riots; what the Burmese seek, or the fact that this event was a slow crash materialising.

    So what does news do? Well it waits, and a bit more, then some... and then here's the copy that moves Burma up the news. Frankly it didn't need that.

    We're far off from the paradigm shift within the psychology of news that moves it away from predictive formats and reaction to that which seeks to inform before hand - which may or may not yield pressure to thwart such calamities.

    I'm just a simpleton. What do I know, But where would we be with blogs and the networked concerned reportage generation.

    BBC man in Gaza

    Tamer is now in Gaza, so I will run the full interview I conducted with him over the weekend. If you're a journalism student it's worth watching for its inspiration. If you're an existing journalists, did I mention it's worth watching for its inspiration.

    Tamer with his friend and BBC Colleague Alan Johnston. Tamer was one of Alan's producers when he was based in Gaza

    the ultimate risks of video journalism

    Yannis Kontos on night patrl with the US Marines in Baghdad

    Nine dead in Burma including a Japanese photojourmnalist.

    No one wants to hear about such tragedies.

    And when journalists lose one of their own, it is equally hard to swallow.

    If the mere act of going to work carried such ominous risks, it's doubtful how many would opt for this vocation.

    Some however are aware of these calculated threats.

    More than a decade ago reporting from the townships, I opted to go to Katlehong, then designated the murder capital of the world.

    We signed away any rights apportioning blame to our hosts, a local peace group, should we meet a deadly fate.

    The previous day, a dozen people had been shot.

    While they're have been a number of journalists who've been sadly cut down, there's been a high ratio of photographers and cameramen who've been killed in action.

    And it may well be as more and more videojournalists enter the profession, we'll have to introduce guidelines and be more stringent in our vigilance of their modus operandi.

    Videojournalism's Risks
    Video journalism and photojournalism share a lot in common, not least Cappa's famous dictum:if your pictures were not good enough, you were not close enough.

    Camera operator may shoot from afar, aided on many ocassions by a second set of eyes; their reporter of producer.

    As a videojournalist, you walk alone.

    Meanwhile today I hear from a colleague: if you're a journalist or blogger associated with the foreign presss in Baghdad it's certain you're using an alias and you don't want to be captured on screen, for fear of reprisals from insurgents.

    Getting to the truth is often a burden too heavy. As a journalist or journalist student, in these times you realise you're treading in large footsteps.

    Soweto's goes to town

    We take it for granted, huge malls to buy everything and sundry, but today Soweto got its own. I remember spending many days in Soweto shebeen-hoping back in the days. In fact I saw my first 850 BMW there, so the only question I ask is why it's taken so long after the fall of apartheid

    UK's ITV News cutbacks

    ITV, one of the uk's leading news outlets has announced its cutting back its regional production from 17 to 9. The unions are up in arms. If there was ever a reason for an internet/cable based company to look for an opportunity to do regional use, its now.

    Wednesday, September 26, 2007

    UK broadband headache

    The FT, BBC et al have been running news all this week about the UK's apparent lag in Broadband speeds.

    They've been citing, among others, France where speeds are generally fast, did they say 100mb, in comparision with the UK where optimum levels hover around 1-2mb.

    On the eve of the government trumpeting its world class credentials, well...

    At the heart of the controversy is BT (British Telecom) reluctant to change to fibre optics claiming there's no justification for the costs.

    A little while back it was BT once again dragging its feet over the final loop with cable companies complaining over prohibitive charges.

    We're back to that alice in wonderland paradigm, where everyone talks up how well they're doing, but it's a mad hatters tea party.

    Watch out for the news report where BT claims we've got some of the best speeds in the world and we're forging ahead with relentless ingenuity. It's only been in the last two years that competitive broadband pricing has allowed innovation in video.

    Meanwhile if you're in South Korea or Singapore I'm told you've every reason to cheers

    BBC's Tamer Al Mishall in Gaza

    The BBC's newly appointed Gaza Correspondent for its soon to launch Arabic channel is now back in Gaza. I eagerly await his reports which based on previous work with him should be captivating.

    Writing great copy online

    If you are a PR writer and you don't know these rules already er, shame on you! Because when it comes to wrting for the web, the rules are completely different for print.

    But trawling the net, you come across some huge howlers from even some of the big PR companies and newspapers as well.

    What you have to bear in mind is that firstly many people are scanners - that polished 100 word copy on that great product won't attract many eyeballs if it's dense and full of marketese.

    Kiss really does rule. I once took a class of PR students and it was an experience. Perhaps I shouldn't have asked them to buil websites !! £@%$

    But the one area that should be a top priority on theire list, should be knowing how to write online for search engines and you the reader.

    For a good read about this, and it's stood the test of timethe traditionalists can often the the best, go to Jakob Nielsen useit

    Tuesday, September 25, 2007

    Broadband's end game for broadcasting

    The end of broadcasting via terrestrial satellite?

    Further relentless pressure on brodcasters - as broadband TV become a reality

    Broadcasters leaving the BBC et al en masse ( due to financial cut backs) set up rival alternative BBC esque networks

    Most broadcasters have broken up in into pocker networks to balance the books. Publish only that which makes a profit - policy makers are not pleased.

    Advertisers abandon barb ( a rough estimate of viewing audiences) for more sophisticated web analytics.

    Gaming culture and broadcasters collaborate further aong the lines o photo realistic shows. Who wants to be a millionaire
    can be played with you in the chair

    Broadcasters cry foul and urge policy makers (Brussels) to introduce laws allowing for video on line to be vigorously monitored.

    You compile your own news based on defaults on your viewing habits.

    View by appointment stays because of a core minority viewing audience before it abandons it altogether.

    Universities are under pressure as real life lectures either through holodecks or advanced second life do the same job

    Every major ciy is wi-maxed up with multiple translations for news streams.

    In 5 years time most of the above has a good chance of becoming a reality

    Monday, September 24, 2007

    Strange worlds Vjing under water

    One of the pages being hit hard at the moment is this IM6 piece - integrated multimedia - diving expedition in Gallipoli.

    I'm trying to demonstrate how video can be stripped into audio - radio package, a photo essay, and video package.

    This piece probably ranks as one of the most exhilirating and frightening dives- as I got caught by a ribbon current which slammed me against some live shells. It's wierd what you think about when you're in that situation.

    I can remember thinking, I haven't taken the rubbish out @!^&* . The piece made it onto the BBC World Service. Strange as it may sound, but still nothing beats radio - the sheer creativity of bringing images alive.

    Listening to the blanket coverage of the PM's speech, I can't help on the one hand think, "ah that would have been good to have covered that", but then the loop coverage after a while does get to you. For light relief I have a super 8 mm shoot I did at Cheltenham during my last job as a political producer at C4 and it features the PM's brother who was editor of the prog I worked on. If I can find the reel, you'll find him in good form having won some money on the horses.

    City Run

    If you could hear the sfx, cuz here I'm out a breath. In DC, a little while ago, I decided to go for a morning run. In fact if there was a blog for insatiable joggers (journalists who blog - geddit! Ah well) I'd probably have a bit to say.

    DC though offers one of the best scenic routes, Berlin wasn't bad either. But DC it's the White-House - Lincoln Memorial, the Korean War Veterans Memorial, onwards and then a big loop back.

    In fact I thought wouldn't it be cool if you had one of those antishake cameras mounted so you could record the scenes as well. I sound like Forest Gump don't I?

    One of BBC Radio 4's Commissioners asked if I had an idea for any features and I couldn't help propose this. It's such a bizarre idea it might just work.

    The second idea was a composite of all the people I have recorded pre-presentation e.g. Dan Gilmore, James Wiki Wales, James Wagner Au - second life David (technorati) Sifry, Asha Oberoi, Sabine Streich the list goes on. . .

    I think I'm going to call that "Last words".

    Get yer running shoes out!

    What's better web writer vs newspaper hack

    Ok so what's better?

    A medicocre writer who knows how to write for bots and spiders with google rich links or a fairly adroit writer from a newspaper who has no clue of link-building scripts?

    What if you could combine both. . . writing for the web classes start shortly.

    Next generation doc makers

    Slow day in blogsville, though I have been whizzing around the likes of Mindy Macadams et al sites.

    Currently knee deep in marking student final project. This year very very impressed with output. There are those that could fly straight into the schedules and I encourage any commissioner watching this to put a note in their diary.

    I'll be discussing with colleagues how we get to show previews or full versions depending on what the film makers say.

    It's one thing knowing how to shoot with a camera. It's another understanding pace, rhythms and flows - which turn ordinary shoots into near works of art.

    Incidentally if you are a VJ: then this could interest you from ITN's Chief operating Officer Guy Ker who was the MD when I was at Channel 4 News. Get applying - the adverts are in the Guardian Newspapers.
    p.s. Have you noticed the number of VJ jobs being advertised?? My my,

    Hi David. At this stage we do need journalists.

    ++++ parallax

    Back to one of my favourite themes, so if you stand at a distance, the illusion is that there's another site sitting behind the front page. Now all I want to do is see how I can manipulate the spatial geography of any perspective page, without it becoming annoying.

    The cube gives another concept. See Im6, which faciltates video hyperlinking as reported in The Economist

    Sunday, September 23, 2007

    Flying Ferrari

    So about this time, Kevin Haggarthy who reviews high performance cars for a living. Lucky ********** should be on a private jet courtesy of Ferrari with 10 other big press members jetting to sunny climates to test Ferraris.

    Yesterday he passed by to grab a DVD of the Ferrari shoot we did. The original file because of its post in After Effects held a lot of visual data so the export size came in around 3gigs.

    I manged to wash that through the H2 codec with a more fluid data rate so the size is now down to 200mb, and so on a DVD the data rate of transfer from disc to screen is comparable. There should be no stutters.

    The only question now is whether I have a career in the future in high performance car shoots. You can judge for yourself here

    The win win scenario - Prisoners Dilemma

    It matters very little whether you're in journalism or business because in some sense you've already been practicing PD

    If you think you haven't here's a salutory tale.

    A friend, Rochel, in the NY has a problem. The new shiny website required by her CEO is due the next day. The designs have come in and the CEO is mad. They're not up to scratch.

    Meanwhile, the designer who's been working flat out is exasparated. Wayne, the project manager, who appears to have dragged his feet has left the project.

    So Rochel who's been brought in with T-18 hours has been asked to fix this. Yep she's been dumped upon.

    What is one to do??

    Firstly couple of things emerge. The original project manager, Wayne, had little experience of managing web based projects and his knowledge of design in this area appeared limited.

    Secondly, the designer Todd has been crying out for content which looks like it was not forth coming and his time on the project has run out. In fact he's just eaten in to his own budget by pulling in two Flash designers.

    Thirdly Rochel has been asked by the CEO to ring this designer up and balls him out.

    Not a recipe for game theory win-win.

    What do you do?

    All the above help, but they form a larger part of the problem, You're seeking a solution. Mantra, solution not problems.

    So the first thing I'd suggest is to put yourself in the designer's shoes.

    Most likely by now Todd's fed up, frustrated, mad, has had sleepless nights and easily blames the Wayne -project manager who said to him: "I know your work, do what you can".

    So you need to get the designer back on your side, because in reality, you may well want him to go beyond the call of duty, with no extra funds. Do not go nuclear on the phone. If he walks you're all up **** creek. Be firm and polite and offer solutions.

    If you have a friend who is a designer even better, get him/her to help shape some designs on your existing one. Don't ask for radically different designs as a) It'll involves too much work b) The designer doing the work will get mightily cheesed of.

    My suggestion was a brief polite phone call to clear the air with the possibility of either repeat business (something you're CEO would want to avoid) or recommendations that the designer has crisis management skills.

    Most business like someone who can pull out of a crisis with no collateral damage.

    All designers have a vested interest in their work, so want to do the best.

    If you can get him to send you the design with modifications to colour, font, and layout, then get the CEO and a couple others together.

    In many cases it's about ownership. The CEO wants to know she made the ultimate decision. Options help her do this.

    From there make some add on - subtract suggestions: an image here, Flash component there. Remember the clock's ticking.

    Return this to your designer and execute a number of toll gates throughout the day. You're at the end of a phone/skype, so each time he moves forward on a page template and daughter pagers, you get to sign off.

    As it happens, there was no sign off regime in the last relationship.

    If it looks good praise the designer. That's important. The more confidence he gets back, the more he'll rise to the challenge.

    Don't wait for all the content to come your way to send over. Send it over with specific instructions where it should go. As its taking shape ask the desiger what he/she thinks.

    If they're negative, then don't blame them, you plough ahead. If they're positive you've got them on your side.

    If you're now planning the big favour - can I have video here? - Make it known this a "transation in the bank" - I owe you one.

    With all this said and done, it may get sticky on the way. Whatever yo do, don't go nuclear. Unless that is you have another designer on stand by.

    When it's all done. Hold that post mortem and if you feel in the end the designer was not ultimately at fault. Most designers do what they're told to do, make it up by a token, gift and a warm thanks.

    David worked as a creative director and project manager on various high profile projects for re active - a soho based interactive ad agency - managed by a former head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchi.

    Saturday, September 22, 2007

    The Noddy Shot - Television Broadcast News

    The Noddy Shot is one of the most prevalent shots in television, particularly Broadcast News.

    Simply it is a reaction shot from an interview when there's only one camera. Meaning after you've finished interviewing your subject, the camera operators turns the camera on you and you nod - sometimes vigorously, often subtely- hence the Noddy. There are real ethical issues here made clear if you've ever watched Broadcast News with William Hurt.

    Image from David's forthcoming book on videojournalism

    Why use the Noddy

    More often it's used to hide an edit you've made within your interview. When you edit your interviewees answer, you'll have to mask that cut, otherwise you get this thing called the "jump cut": the person's head jumps suddenly from one point to another. So, often a noddy is inserted.

    Often it's used stylistically - after so many seconds of seeing someone speak you want to break up the visual narrative - so it cuts to you.

    Generally though it's used as a statement. You're saying that interview here, I was there conducting it.

    Noddy - The Fraud

    The kerfuffle over the noddies stems from issues with at least two of the above, frankly all three really.

    Firstly there are many occasions when a reporter/presenter may not have conducted an interview. It would have been done by a producer, but then the reporter later finds a suitable background for a reaction shot on him/her to insert into the interview.

    Is this fraud? At the very least its deception - not my words though I agree, but as discussed on Radio 4's Today Programme this morning.

    Secondly, scanning through the interviewees answer, a producer decides I like what he said there, don't like that, but like this second answer, so I'll cut and paste those together. From this edit, they'll cover the "jump cuts" with noddies and some.

    This act though may just redefine what your interviewee has said, sometimes making them even more eloquent than they are.

    I remember an occasion working in radio when a producer cut out thirty two stutters from an interviewee with a speech impediment. So there's an ethical issue here.

    When used stylistically can you absolutely match your reaction at the time to when the the interviewe was being conducted? The answer is no.

    Remember the clip in Broadcast News when Hurt is seen crying, Brook's character then says to the producer " How did he do that there was only one camera". So they look through thr B-roll ( US) / GVs (UK) to find him prepping himself for his camerman to cry.

    So how do you know what reaction shot to insert where?

    Solutions with Video journalism's ethics

    I'm not saying here that videojournalism is the key to solving some of the above. I'm saying the ethics of video journalism that I teach can be applied to help solve some of these.

    Firstly, if you're not there as the interviewee, TOUGH! Find something else to cutaway to.

    Secondly, why cut within interviews to make the producers point. The rule within parliamentary speeches in the House of
    Commons is not to cut within speeches/replies etc.

    If that's good for parliamentary and producers why shouldn't the same be applied to outside.

    This is something I have come to acknowledge somewhat strongly.

    Often the reason this cut-within-an-interview happens is that the producer has a different take, rightly or wrongly from the person who did the interview.

    Secondly, as a videojournalist I can often tell people what I'm going to use, and in long formats, I take whole SOTs ( sound on tape). If I need a second SOT to make a point, I'll cut out of the inteview to a VO ( voice over), or actuality, then back in.

    Thirdly, just how do you perform a sytlistic noddy edit? If I need one I tend to do it right after my interview.

    Here I'll turn the camera on myself and ask the same question to ellicit the same facial response from me.

    Also it needs to be contemporaneous. That's an absolute. The same applies with the over the shoulder facing the interviewee, I'll ask the same question again to get the reaction of the person looking at me.

    An interesting note here. If I already have my answer, I won't let my interviewee get into the stride of their answer.

    If they insist that's another thing, but what I want to avoid is hearing a reworked answer which may be different from the first and may force me therefore to redo the interview on a close up.

    Truth is as a vj with no tripod, you're rarely think of using a noddy.

    Someone's now saying, but you could have missed out on a brilliant response. I say, that's my loss. If It's not on tape it never happened.

    If I don't hear it there's no loss. If a better answer was on its way and I hadn't allowed it, then I haven't done my work properly. Remember I have already preped my piece - part of the VJ way of doing things. See Financial Times Report.

    Video journalism is photo journalism with a movie camera - and very often I doubt you'll ask the Photojo to er, "hey I like that angle shot you just did, can you do replicate that". If a response is ruined because of sound background, coughing, things beyond our control that's another thing entirely.

    Incidentally, the reaction shot and noddies often take me less than thirty seconds to complete.

    The politics of the noddies and its misuse is that is illustrates an arrogance of television, and at worst deceiving an audience.

    Like I have said in previous posts, if you look back on the inception of TV News and its language, compared to say cinema and other Creative (small C) media, the language has changed little. If it's not broken, many say, why fix it.

    It appears the transparency of the media sparked in no small way by the Net, blogging etc is revealing cracks. Hence the ban on the noddies now.

    And what about television's hard and fast rule about starting off a shoot on an establisher - how silly is that!

    The Politicised Generation

    Take four dynamic South Africans who would vote in their first election circa 1994. Observe them for four months talking to them, recording them. That was the basis of a BBC Radio 4 Doc called First Time Voters. It turned out to be a huge success.

    When it played on Radio 4, the World Service heard it and aired it on their network, then the SABC heard it and played it on the eve of the 94 historic elections.

    Believe me, it's a good thing radio allows for anonymity because geez they trailed that programme. I still get picked up for it, particularly amongst radio enthusiasts, when I'm in SA.

    But that's not why I write

    Five years later go back. Find out what's chnaged, this time as a VJ piece. That's the feature that played on Channel 4 which I can now show on the web.

    Some time soon I hope to go back to SA to see how they're all doing and pick up some new material. I should have gone back in 2004, but alas. . .

    What would be a step forward is to share the programme with other online outlets where greater social networking can be estsbalished and costs can be covered and some.

    This is more or less a variation on a theme of 7up. They are the sussed generation. Coming up in a couple of days. Meantime here's the site: Reporting South Africa I created- which will soon run the radio and tv documentary

    Friday, September 21, 2007

    He's a video journalist and he's a second lifer

    Next week interviews Second Life Journalist James Wagner Auwho talks about web 3.0

    The power of video and sharing ourspace

    This is a short doc film that still makes me tear up, smile, then punch the air. You'll go through a range of emotions with an easter egg at the end, which you need to look for.

    Enjoy, Enjoy, Enjoy

    The Family Vilakati

    Behind the Scenes - BBC Newsnight

    Going to BBC Newsnight somewhere in the non-distant future. The editor and I have discussed a behind-the-scenes making of...

    The idea is you get to see how a prog is put together over a day which could be instructive to academics, students, programme makers, and assortment of audiences.

    If you've seen 8 Days you'll get some idea though the one I did with the Financial Times which I haven't had time to make is more accurate. It follows the making of an item for the Bank of England monetary report ie from the inception to it finally going online. You get to hear the decision making, Rob, one of the editots on the Intercative desk producing the feature speaking fluid VJ language:" I don't know that we've got enough sot here. Shall we limit the 3:6:9 seq" and the buzz of the new.

    And there's a moment that shows Rob's skills professionally charming the City of London police who want to know whether he has filming rights. Filming rights to film on the street I thought. Grrr!

    Anyway's Newsnight. What would you like to know or have me ask and I'll use your name and details in the questioning. ie Mary Bower from wants to know why Newsnight is. . .?

    BTW I worked at newsnight in the early 90s and researched for Jeremy Paxman on a couple of occasions. Doubt he'll remember that.

    BBC's Top Gear - the Parrallel Universe with Videojournalism

    Top Gear - great cinematography and story telling

    Top Gear, Top programme - that is unless you're not a fan of the the lad's boyish banter.

    But film making and cinematography, it ranks up there.

    Countless others have tried to imitate with catastrophic failure. So could we produce our own car prog here WITHOUT APING THE BOYS?

    Step forward Kevin Haggarthy from ITV's Pulling Power and a A1 HD/DV Cam and this is what we got testing the Ferrari 599 GTB.

    Story telling is all about people... well it's about characters in as much, and the two characters here are the Ferrari and Kevin and the music of Nanct Ginindza - which has had a few people email me and youtube asking for the track.

    Ferrari have requested a look at the feature which uncompressed is now on DVD awaiting a courier. And since that shoot, a couple of other super performance cars have come to table. Robb Montgomery at Visual Editors thinks we have a unique thing going :-D

    Here's the car and site built around it.'s Performance Cars - The Ferrari 599GTB

    Tip 107
    We're using a double compression technique so I can hold the integrity of the image reducing it from 2 gigs to 25 mbs and the skin is simple and clean enough to complement the site

    Tip 107b The track which has had a few people emailing has been put out at a clip on the front page of Finding the right music is key to making the car sequence work

    Thursday, September 20, 2007

    Story telling is all about people, and . . .

    I'd like to tell you a story. Her name is Rania Al Malky.

    Last year she was a Journalism Masters student and one of the best and tenacious I'd had the pleasure of working with.

    Today she's the editor of one of Cairo's most prominent English language newspapers, Daily News - a paper distributed with the International Herald Tribune.

    In this clip, she calls me her inspiration. When I put the interview with Rania together with the comments from her staff, I believe you'll agree with me that SHE is the inspirer.

    Here's how we sprung Rania going to her offices.

    * story telling is all about people, characters and issues

    Cliff's Freediving VJ piece

    This from Cliff over at the BluProjekt

    It's his second - piece - VJ - and nice, about a Volunteer Freediver.

    Cliff's an aquatic person himself so has the real opportunity to own this space. Just as there are brill camera operators, Cliff's got his spurs to be a specialist freediving/scuba vj etc. You can read comments on his site. Also leave your own.

    There's something I tell graduating VJs on our course, and it's something like this:

    In the early stages you'll make mistakes, you have to make mistakes, cuz you have to experiment, And people will tell you "that's really bad", but if at the very least you get good shots, clean SOT (interviews) and it's an interesting story, then that's some accomplishment. Cliff's done more than this. Here's the blurb from his site.

    "Here is a self assigned project I completed on a unique volunteer who gives his time at the Oregon Coast Aquarium in Newport Oregon.

    While the Aquarium has about 120 volunteer scuba divers, Derek Perry is the only volunteer freediver they currently have donating time to help with the day to day care and cleaning of the Aquarium exhibits. He drives 2 hours each way, twice a month to donate his time because he believes in what the Aquarium is doing.

    The story idea was conceived, shot both above and underwater, and edited by me.

    This project was challenging due to the low light conditions I encountered while shooting in the Aquarium exhibit while freediving with Derek.

    Overall, I feel this is a solid slice of life story".

    Tip 102 Why Videojournalism works -England's women squad

    England's football (women) squad have reached the quarter final of the World Cup, but unless you're a die hard fan you probably wouldn't know.

    There are many stars in the line up. One in particular caught our atention Anita Asante who plays defence.

    Anita is also part of Arsenal's women's cup winning squad, but amazingly before we'd talked to her, she'd never beeen interviewed.

    *So Charlie and experienced cameraman /producer and I spent a couple of hours talking to her and you can see the results here.

    We plan to update the story and run some of the out takes where she shows us up with her dribbling skills, but for the meantime here's Anita talking Football (soccer).

    *This could have been shot as a video journalism package, but I suggest if you can always find a good camera operator and its right for the story, then take the oportunity.

    Wednesday, September 19, 2007

    Beatlemania Photo Brilliance

    Yes, yes, yes - this sets a standard for producing photo essays.

    The magic ingredients: stunning photography, brill music, insightful interview, fabulously art designed.

    When I first saw it I thought Saul Bass, even Hillman Curtis - a fanastic designer. It also reminded me of the sort of thing the BBC's Late Show - now defunct would do. Brill Brill Brill.

    The interview presentation is retro - something Warhol's Interview would have revelled in or more recently ( not that recent) Neville Brody's The Face.

    Go look. One thing as Robb Montgomery from Visual Editor's makes clear, there's no where we can praise them for what they've done. I suppose if you're Magnum you don't need public praise or do you?

    The Beatles - David Hurn

    HBO Voyeur Beyond Big Brother -BB2.0

    This from cruising aboutNew York Time's TV Critic Virginia Heffernan who generously and kindly has given us a link-shout to in her related sites. Thank you.

    Below, she captures a dreamy setting to this invite from the featire above -HBO's Voyeur project which stated: You don't want to miss this.

    "I got a glass of wine from the bar and took it outside in the rain. A modern primitive in a fedora — a twentysomething from a nearby tenement — stood next to me and lit up a cigar. Suddenly modern dance music came up, and filled the block, while all faces turned north: the whole side of a city building blazed with a four-story movie. It was really, really cool".

    Full blog here

    Now if the the TV execs were thinking of a more contemporary networked big brother - it might look like this - with no voice overs - just er, life

    Future of TV - how to siphon off TV - tip 101

    I've been invited to a channel 4 talk in a couple of weeks where I'll raise aspects of future TV.

    Here's a quick idea.

    Some programmes can be extraordinary, but because the broadcaster has only so much time on air, they have to move on, leaving you feeling you wanted more.

    So why not piggy back a good TV programme by making your own item to respond or move the debate further on. It's not the height of creativity, but there's an audience waiting for you.

    After the BBC made a programme called :The Trouble with Black Men". We here made the Trouble with the Trouble with Blackmen featuring some top UK stars e.g. Lennox Lewis, Actor Kwame Akwei Armah.

    Broadband Video on the Net will result in programmes like this: remake/mash ups of BBC progs like, The Trouble with Black Men

    It addressed issues that were broader and caught the attention of he BBC and viewers when we put it out.

    Newspaper have been running spoliers for years. Net programmes piggying Broadcasters is not so common, the majority tend to be spoofed up (e.g. a host of Star wars fights on You tube)

    So look through your TV schedules and find out which one's popular and remake it to address your issues

    Three journos UK, US, Egyptian - talking video journalism et al

    Colourful chat between three journos UK, US, Egyptian crossing a bridge over the Nile - discussing video journalism, advances in newspaper layout from super newspaper guru Rob Montgomery. Robb was the art director for the Chicago Tribune who came up with some great headlines and photoshoots.

    This pod has us discussing a range of issues on media training. I appear to be quite over animated. Apologies about that, but I think we provide a podcast travelogue. Ride with us.


    Pre-web dot com crash

    It's a bit like the scottish play. . . you know you're not supposed to say it's real name.

    But the indicators are as follows:

    China is saving it's money, thus there's less liquidity in the market.
    The West isn't saving - and there's a bubble lurking. Record repossession of homes in the US
    The amount of debt to savings within a Brit household has risen in the last ten years from 40 percent to 140 thereabout * figures quoted by an Economist on The Today programme.
    We here in Western markets have had it good for too long. And we're still spending past our reach.
    Northern Rock is an indicator of the sign of the times. Banks are still lending loans when we can't afford it.

    So is it time to launch a new online venture? Course it is - after all that slogging and VC talks - who's going to stop you.
    Is there a crash on its way where money people hold on to their cash? - Yes that always happens. How severe? We'll see.

    But being one of the casualties or successes I suppose is part of web 2.0 jungle. Time to try and cash in on some of that paper money. We've been here before.

    Tuesday, September 18, 2007

    BBC Project Management

    David's meme during meeting
    Can't talk much about it, Chatham House Rules, other than it'll have great benefits for youngsters in media literacy. It's the sort of programme a university would love to own as well.

    But at a meeting I started my meme map and thought this might be something we can offer students and other pros - no not the meme - but the aspect of project management that underpins driving multi-agency projects.

    This isn't the first time in so many months that I have sat with BBC figures. Last year about this time, a colleague and I were coming to the end of a consultancy which saw us partner with the BBC's Online Journalism college to assist in the build of their flag ship training programme.

    The University of Westminster did quite well out of that. In itself it represents a model for academia and business working together.

    Three years ago, I convinced the then head of BBC Interactive that through a unique co-venture we (our) university could help map out a future of news

    What I loved about that project was how I was able to rally students from different disciplines and with one of the BBC's Multiplatform whizzes Asha Oberoi ( She's now at ITN) push at what may come. The students presented their findings to BBC management 8 months later to huge praise. That's what I think Unis can be a real integral part of the market place.

    This project is at the editorial propositional stage and thus begs lots of questions, so here we talk freely, feeling our way around and then start to put structure to building the blocks.

    Good project managers invariably have many projects on the go and it's a joy to watch them, rationalising their thought process.

    Meme diagrams work for me as often I tend to visualise feats What is it? What do we want from it? What do others want from it? Is there a win win - game theory? What's the plumbline ie the one thing that is central? How can we cut past waste, but encourage debate? Who are the players and what role do they excercise in a meeting? What's the phase? And how much will this cost?

    Our final online project has me often saying lets costs students' time and resources so when they go to industry they're aware of cost-pricing issues etc. This is something I'll come back to later on in the month.

    Amazing photography -Yannis kontos

    If you're in London on Thursday, without any idea what to do why don't you go to the Front Line Club where the mutiple award winning photographer Yannis Kontos will be talking about his work, the scrapes he's been through, and how the devil he got himself into North Korea - photos that ran in Time or was it Newsweek.

    Couple of weeks back this two huge lush books arrived through the post, unexpectedly, signed by Yannis.

    What a visual fest. This is how photography should be packaged. I have become privy to Yannis' work from a couple of multimedia photo montages, but as they say for the best photos silence speaks volumes. I'm not sure how much the books retail for, other than Yannis is looking for a distributor so if you're from Macmillan publishing etc may be this could be yours.

    I have asked Yannis for a comp issue. If you are a publisher/distributor and you'd like a sample copy let me know.

    Mr Scott Rensberger - say hello

    Scott Rensberger is in the house ( I'm going all show bizz now). A snippet of his work on the front page of viewmag is from a gun fest he came across and then shot. It's er pretty something to watch. There's a full other package which is equally rivetting. Man after Katrina refuses to leave his destroyed home threatening to shoot anyone who comes near his property with any number of assault weaponshere

    Scott doesn't like the term video journalist and I undestand why. It's limiting. But he does the whole nine years as well. We met in Bilbao, Spain and had a good exchange. We even shot an exclusive in the Guggenheim museum - including of all places, their toilets. Yep I'll confirm that's an exclusive from the T of the G. Take that Mr L. So give it up for Mr R.

    Must exlain why I'm going all lovey ( sorry! English term for crooning attitude to actors, director etc.) Wrreeher!
    I have just found some archive tape on my trusted Uher from when I used to produce/present a BBC London magazine programme -includes some really cool interviews with the likes of the Late Fela Kuti and Mario Van Peebles and various film directors. I'll post that soon.

    I showed my uher to some of my most recent students. Yep you guessed they were horified at the thought of any radio journalist lugging one of those around, but we did, we did. . .

    *L =Letterman

    Monday, September 17, 2007

    Bourne Versus 007

    My working colleague had me nearly sputtering my tea. He said Bourne was rubbish. What !@$£* and went on to add that James Bond wot's that film called. . . was much better. Can someone help me out here? I was going to explain that the latest James Bond looked to be heavily influenced by Bourne but I thought "breath David".

    p.s It's with great regret that I have to announce that the interview with Paul Greengrass ( Dir.) Bourne is off. I missed my window and as you'd expect Mr Greengrass is a very busy man, so lets be hopeful for another time in the future.

    I'll post some short burst interviews from the red carpet with Rodriguez soon.

    IBM ranks high in Egypt

    One of the few words I came away with from Egypt was IBM = Inshala Bukem Malesh, which effectively says something like "if God wills but it's unlikely to happen". Nice huh!

    So on a couple of occasions: you'll hear someone say "IBM" and then we'd afford ourselves a wry smile.

    We left Egypt on the start day of Ramadan and the stories about the region during this time flew thick and fast.

    Firstly the working day is cut short. People head off home at 3ish. I mean Everyone. You've heard of grid lock I was told but you aint seen anything yet. But despite this rush, a few things we did observe: large banners which when translated offered anyone passing the chance to sit down and eat for free.

    Many friends joked that during Ramadan the country is in chill mode and the million dollar question say friends is why can't it be like this most of the time.

    Jobs, jobs, jobs at Al Jazeera

    They're hiring a plenty over at Al Jazeera International. I have been to their office a couple of times to see them at work.
    Today I'm hoping to talk to Riz Khan - one of its presenters. Er' it'll have to be Chatham House rules when I do. I have been watching AJ. Not as much. Hey 24 hours in the day, you know!

    Riz won't mind me saying this, but at heart he's a vj. He shot a couple of docs from Afghanistan and we once spent a TDB ( till day break) ie all through the night editing a doc on The Hajj which was played on the BBC World Service.

    The big question obviously is when AJI will eventually get into the US market. A new administration perhaps? But the fact they're on a second major hiring run suggests they're here to stay.

    Before AJI was set up and Riz was at CNN Interntional he said something that was pretty instructive.

    Since CNN is a global channel why do they always start off a new presentation involving the US president with: US president Bush met with South Africa's Thabo Mbeki. Why not South Africa's President Thabo Mbeki met with US President Bush.

    That small adjustment is a huge shift in thinking - something AJI is keen to see.

    More details on jobs go to the Guardian Newspaper. Happy Doha!

    Deconstructing video journalism at

    In the coming weeks we'll be deconstructing video journalism at

    I'll be talking in more detail about working with the Financial Times and how video journalism is working there, as well as the 150 or so newspaper journalists we've helped train. Business and Economics have often been the most testing reportage to produce on TV because of the lack of "strong" visuals, so what can video journalism offer?

    We'll show the basics born from television to the more advance VJ - docs and some of the new visual language you could use. We'll show you more VJ pieces from 14 years ago - reports on the newspaper industry in the UK talking about where the industry's going. Then we'll look at more current trends.

    Video journalism broadly offers "made-like-TV" shoots or a the more aggressive personalised paradigm. We'll look at both as well as the hybrid

    Jon Staton used to be head of TV at Saatchi and Saatchis. He was my MD in his London Soho-based ad agency and here we used video journalism to make ads for among others London Underground's new XTP project.

    We'll also show video Journalism's core points were used to produce an ad in 12 hours for a Washington based client, aired on CNN International

    We'll look at techniques for assessing the film/len's energy. You'll often find composers talking about this when scoring for a film.

    Video Journalism is not a one size fits all. In many cases I believe the term can be limiting as it assumes it's fit only for news, so we'll talk about the Ferrari 599 GTB shoot, without all the Top Gear trappings.

    Then we'll deconstruct a Fashion Show shoot, and One-on-One interviews with key industry figures, plus off-the-beaten-path travelogue programmes and Sport shoots.

    And we'll look at Youth Current Affairs. Before, in the 90s the BBC had a programme that defined a generation of film makers and media pundits. Its name was Reportage.

    Then we'll talk about where video journalism may not be suitable, but the underlying theory will stand you in good stead as a director speaking everyone elses language: an L cut to the editor, Pull focus to the camera operator, blondes or redheads for lighting, ambient sound and working close to the mike with sound.

    Then news, conflict and Nato's war games using blog swarming techniques to cover stories.

    We'll combine video journalism with Integrated multimedia profiling people whose paths we've crossed, who shoot and build css sites on the fly, such as the BBC's new Gaza Correspondent, Tamer

    And then we'll look beyond video journalism into the realms of (Video)motion graphics with a good pal and one of the most talented souls for his generation Rob Chiu.

    And then we'll go have a beer on face book.

    Video journalism ~ it's about technique and not just technology

    Sunday, September 16, 2007

    Role models

    Politics and role models
    As always this canvas allows me to scribble out some thoughts before refinning them within viewmag. I've stumbled upon a magazine article amongst my papers. Yep I'm a lab rat. I hoard things. Dear me! But this caught me sideways.

    It was May 1999 and the Evening Standard newspaper asked 11 different professionals to a studio where we would have our pics taken and an article written about how well we are doing.

    Don't worry I shook the self aggrandisment a long time ago, but it is the art of relativity and my agent back then was keen to show me off. Amongst the group one Zadie Smith, author of White Teeth and the Dotun brothers - very clever people indeed.

    Eight years on in reflective mode and in a political setting where we're told youngster, black in particular, need role models like they need ipods, I'm asking what's the point of role models.

    Be careful now. It's a loaded question.

    A couple of years back I was in the position to be one of the filter markers for the Economists essays. The question was: What is nature? Often the simplest questions hide a potency. It was a real joy going through papers. Some took the sledge hammer approach. It is, it is, it is !!! Unequivocal statementts piled sky high forming a tower, shaky one, of opinion

    Others massaged and kneaded and eventually came up with something that filled you with wonder. I remember some one from India living in New York. His window hung over a tree where a bird was nesting with its chics. The tree became nature and everything else revolved around it.

    So hopefully if I ask if there's any point in role models, I'm not being entirely obtuse. But I ask nonetheless in an environement of assumed conflict and chaos within our system.

    First do I consider myself a role model? And if so what have I done about it? Told you these were loaded.

    I'm aware we all need "heroes". I have my own and they are many. But I don't subscribe to titles that are vessels for vanity. Sod that! I took up lecturing because I felt I had something to offer. I hope I still do. I'm also acutely aware of often the lack of 20:20 from youngsters into some of these strange adult worlds we inhabit.

    A footballer interviewed over the weekend enjoying a call back to the Engglish squad was asked whether he was a better play. Wiser one, was his reply. We stand on some shoulders to see farther.

    Often the mere mention of being a journalist can often yield strange remarks: " Yeah you write in a newspaper. Do they pay you?"

    So in moments I do set myself tasks and try to ensure there's a win outcome for those concerned.

    Right back to the central question. What's the point of role models? A handy political weapon of choice, a genuine attempt to make some good. It's mired in ambivalence.

    But something is clear, somewhere down the high school level, pre in fact are young minds amoebically taking form. Yet somehow their exists a vacuum, politically deficient, in nuturing their talents. Often by the time they've reached a decision where universities or otherwise may be a option, they're not equipped enough to make choices.

    So along with the mad proposal way back to be involved with producing a new genre of journalists who insanely believe they can make a difference, I add a new pathway, say within universities, where structurally it makes it more possible to foster and nuture those indeed who might look up to others they deem role models.

    A program that indeed bridges the divide not for political gain, but something richer. Can that be so hard?

    the process of thought

    It must intrigue you when you think you've come up with an original thought only to find somewhere someone a long distance away is revelling in the same mental break through.

    It's no wonder most scientific discoveries involve some form of horse race to unravel what ever. I once remember watching that great dancer Gregory Hines talk about a new move he was proud to have invented only to find out watching black and white movies that Fred Astaire had executed the same sequence many years back.

    Nothing is sacredly new.

    On a much much smaller scale meeting the founder of visual editors, Robb Montgomery produced some of those moments.

    Rob demonstrates on his blog today something I talk about called the IM6 approach - integrated multimedia.

    He has a podcast, then with the same pod he adds pictures and then a third, he goes for video. Take your pic (er pun) really, but it is a version on the theme that CNN International may be responsible for: Kill what you can eat and don't spare anything.

    Hollywood's done good at this approach in recent years. Make the film, make the making of the film, take the snaps, release audio for the radio stations, now produce killer sites and let you download the trailers.

    It's a 4d quadrant approach. In a matrix sort of way it's like taking the vectors of the word "news" as applied to its regions: North, East, West and South and coming up with an imaginary (i) vector which we could quite simply call i for interactive.

    News has a fifth vector but you have to work it. Robb also proves the other theory that "smart" people pick up things and work, re work them. You don't need to have been a broadcaster to be brilliant at being a broadcaster.

    It's what the Harvard Business Review might call the Integrated approach, but simply it's about observing a paradigm an incorporating it into the body of your work in your way. There's such fluidity. I have already got onto Robb about some of the wonderful mash-ups he's behind.

    This process of design, motion, video and obviously creative thought is behind my Phd which finally I have got round to applying and have been accepted.

    If what we're doing now is considered revolutionary, how might we look in 10 years time?

    Can we as a more networked, wired generation, shake of our antipathy to change as a threat, but as an enabler?

    Can we trend extrapolate from the visceral and emotional qualities of story telling to get to a space where it becomes even more compelling. For instance, is there a designated size online, audio pass etc which triggers greater viewing pleasure?

    And as someone joking said if everyone's publishing who's the viewer? That's an easier one.

    I have come to love this saying now, It's about technique, not jus technology

    City of the Dead

    Couple of changes to viewmagazine with 800px video strips and an article and video on international assignment. Cairo was awesome and I have more than enough hours to produce a range of mini docs.

    The landscape and architecture, French influenced in places, was intoxicating. Robb (Visual Editors) and I produced a podcast which is on Robb's site that sums up the last days.

    I'm looking to open up more and become more expansive in pointing to original work I'm coming across all the while. Currently watching Beastie Boys - Isle of W. festival - Whoah that takes us all back.

    Now then did I tell you about the city of the dead - a region in Cairo where about five million people live amongst the buried. "For many Cairenes the City of the Dead is a mysterious, foreboding area. Many Cairenes are aware of its existence but few understand this group of vast cemeteries that stretches out along the base of the Moqattam Hills" More from this website which captures it pretty well.

    Friday, September 14, 2007

    Energy and Entropy in Video Journalism

    Energy and Entropy - a video journalism perspective.
    I don't always find the opportunity to pull directly from my first degree in Chemistry and Maths (Applied Chemistry) but as a friend made me aware from the clip playing on I talk a lot about the energy of the lens.

    It sounds ludicrous, but it's one of the components of video journalism I believe determines how a film wil be received.

    And like Chemistry the more I flux and reflux what I'm doing, the more I'm seeing new constitutents.

    So with any luck and time, in the coming blogs we can talk about things like. The difference between video blogs and video journalism, which incidentally from Egypt Robb Montgomery captured me here after my talk making a couple of points.

    By the way, I'm not anti-TV. I love television - an electronic canvass - but I'm anti the prescriptive attitude that says things can only be done in a specific way, which television heavily subscribes to. It's important then to note that Channel 5 and other networks have very recently announced they are to do away with "walkies" and the "noddy". That is major.

    TV and video journalism is a bit like a wedding do really: the official photographer providing stately shots of you cutting the cake, getting into the car, taking your vows and then if you can afford the alternative documentary photographer s/he will shoot you unknowingly in intimate, less obvious moments.

    Horses for courses. Parents might by and large adore the "fixed" shots while others want a different mis en scene.

    Video Journalism Energy Lens

    You witness a fight, an exchange of fire arms, a crowd running for dear fright. The scene is frenetic. Your eyes dart around for visual information and as quickly as you're processing, your whole physical body is exhibiting the behavior of chaos.

    The key to being a good camera person is this: Let the action take place within the lens.

    So rock steady shots are the stock in trade. In an aggitated environment rock shots still work, but what happens when the camera itself becomes a character, mimicing your behaviour.

    This is the Energy in the lens principle - for want of a better word.

    Homicide was one of the first contemporary dramas to experiment with this form, 24 also uses it with its arcs, countless docs have so as well, but the two best examples are "Bourne" and the opening beach shot to "Saving Private Ryan".

    In both cases, the directors are unleashing secondary energy from the character of the camera. Finding the right score, if you're making a doc then can make all the difference.

    The dirtier the filming, the more enhanced the look. Dirty filming - No not that- refers to film making where there is no clean line of sight. There is almost a voyeuristic sense that you're being allowed in and this inate genetically encoded quality we have of eaves dropping, rubber necking, and being nosey parkers, means "dirty film making" is heavily appealing.

    Early first geneation film makers with their cameras called their films photographic reality. This one here Battleship Potemkin made in 1925 by Sergei Eisenstein is a film that needs no introduction if you're a movie buff. If you are and we sat down over a drink, we'd talk till the cows come home.

    What's instructive about this is where Segei pulls in the energy. Principally movement, shape and form. Incidentally for non Sergei fans, this is the famous scene recreated in guess what movie with Kevin Costner.

    Energy in the lens is the same as the sweeping strokes by impressionist on their canvas. The term is not new, but it's something you're rarely hear news and feature people talk about. For me it's one of the fundamentals.

    For if you understand the story you can control its pace and rhythm - it's energy - which in turn should determine it's watchability factor - hopefully.

    You say VideoJournalism is **** I say look beyond your walls

    A more considered piece - an article for

    A huge experience talking to Egypt's industry heads and academics. Here are some bullets that apply across the board:

    * The VJ debate first viewed sceptically has gained a lot of admirers.

    * The sceptic thing will never go away, whether you're in Cairo, Chicago or Chelsea, but Vjism is not a one size fits all. We've made programmes on cars e.g. the new Ferrari, Fashion e.g. The Mayfair Club

    * In news it can be used to mop up, add on, or be exclusive

    * Video journalism, multimedia journalism, integrated programme making, 360 degrees programme making - all fall under the versatility of media making. The VJ ( video journalist) is the VJ ( Versatile Journalist)

    * The disruption and in-fighting to new methods and technology is as old as the first neanderthal to discover fire. In the middle ages new methods were deemed witch craft and would have got you killed. Thank Goodness for now.

    * The biggest disruption is about four years away. IPTV ( Internet protocol TV -becomes universal) and greater bandwidth 10 mg + at greater MPG X compression. where x>10mg

    * At the point of ease and simplicity where broadcast quality can be compressed and decompressed from point of origin to the source, with negligible differences, a further disruptive path will be introduced.

    * Enhanced video players multi-simulcasting ( IPTV) on home systems will be also be paradigm breaker.

    * The only difference between newspapers, TV and made for broadband companies will be the attitude of their CEOs not realising, it's about technique not technology.

    More on

    Thursday, September 13, 2007

    Video journalism's special forces

    There's no bravado, we had no prior recky, but the camera and experience would give us the edge.

    Videojournalism is technique not technology.

    The big crews arrive, stating their aim. We arrive wanting to be invisible, working within an ecosystem which comes closer to capturing the moment.

    The traditionalists want to rearrange their ecosystem: You stand here, let's rehearse the questions, can I get you to say it this way, oh and if you don't mind walk from this point to that.

    Ours is best served undisturbed. Go in, get the story, and come out. Often the "in" can be embedded. Stay with the subject enough to feel their pain, emotion, their story.

    The construct is personal, the camera becomes a subject in itself. It's technique not technology.

    The art of one person making films is not new. It was born the very day early cinematographers unveiled their box cameras and cranked away at moving trains, scaring to death cinema audiences.

    But then it grew, cinematographers developed their craft and invited in directors to handle scenes an actors, and sound personnel to operate "car-size" sound equipment.

    We've come full circle and both the gear and techique look to a new language of telling intimate and rich stories.

    Video journalism today hovers between grafitti in a world of classical paintings and fake impressionism; personal tags and expressionism, and dogma film making eschewing all thats cumbersome.

    There are many styles, but above all the key is that one person skilled in drawing out people, understanding how to construct on the fly, possessing a visual literacy, can tell a range of different stories - from a 1.20 piece to a series of hour long docs, will with little fuss.

    The most archaic tool of news decision management is the agenda. It's not scientific, reliant instead on good judgement developed from years of experience, but even the wisest would not deny that what's good for the goose may not be good in the source.

    What you want may not be what I want, but it doesn't make it less important.

    Videojournalism - the versatile journalist. It's about technique not technology

    Emerge and See

    Storytelling through Motion graphics via presumably After Effects . The winner Watch big brother state. Nice

    From site "EMERGEANDSEE is proud to announce the winner of the competition: David Scharf's film "The Big Brother State".
    The critical animation about public surveillance methods was chosen by the jury among 30 excellent submissions"

    Tuesday, September 11, 2007

    Four reasons to publish adopt videojournalism

    You've head them before... but here goes

    Cost of Entry

    My Mac cost me around £2000
    Its software is around 1000
    My camera cost me around 1500
    Hard drive about 500

    For that I have a fuly fledged broadcast or web enabled broadband cast studio
    You can even go lower than this of you're aiming soley for the web

    Quality of Service

    HD or DV - take your pick

    Online Traffic
    A good piece will drive eyeballs to you

    Two newspaper heads tell me they can get up to a million pounds for their video site attracting advertising.

    Ah well!

    Monday, September 10, 2007

    I'm buying an Iphone

    I'm not a hard and fast tech geek. I'll often wait for a "safe period" after a product launches so they can iron out any potential glitches. That won't be he case with the iphone. Robb's been demoing his, like a Ferrari driving at 20 mph down Sunset.

    It really is something. One facet is taken a picture of a new contact attached to their address, so in 6 months time when that person gives you a fleeting calle and you see: "Jerry" pop up.

    Instead of thinking, "damn- can't remember this person- should I?"

    Their picture blows up on your screen. Neat.

    That beastly link

    Here's a good one for the good people at Oxford Institute or other to get their head around.

    At the Telegraph one of their senior execs tells us about a reader who wants a link taking down. It's a foul link. Put it this way, you're caught with your 'trousers down". And it gets written about, at worst blogged.

    What if the event is a conviction which becomes spent over time.

    By law you're not required to reveal the offense. You may even in some cases sue for libel. Meanwhile that "foul" link sits in a paper's archive and number 1 in google against your name staring ominously at any potential employer or friends looking you up.

    The Telegraph's stance is that the article written on you at the times is a reflection of the event - the link stays - just as you couldn't undo a newspaper piece 6 years ago.

    Mind you that newspaper piece is probably in a landfill - out of sight.

    I'll post the actual video of our discussion at some point, but it's interesting to note that other newspapers have gone into their archives and removed offending links.

    Saturday, September 08, 2007

    Video journalism - where do you start?

    Ok So what is it?

    1. It's a journalist with a video camera. You don't have to be a journalist per se. but there are legal, and policy issues to consider which most TV journalism courses make you aware of. Vj's need both reportge and camera legal training.

    2. It's not new. You can trace its origins to the birth of cinematography, and the absence of a director. In the 60s, there were camera/ directors working at the BBC wth Bolex cameras whom you could describe as video journalists.

    3. It's relevant now because it allows low entry into broadbandcasting. If you're a skilled visual essayist or experimental - world's your oyster.

    How does it work?

    1. You don't need gear costing you hundreds of pounds - a lap top and good camera and you're off.

    2. It's not television and why would you want to compete with television. It's a more intimate language in its own.

    3. There are techniques that will set you up to understanding video journalism. The rest is about inspiration.

    Why do I need it?

    1. Ad revenue for video on some sites are mooted to fetch up to a 1000,000 UKP.

    2. We naturally watch television. If it's no good we'll turn off.

    3. You're creating a new history for your publication with archive that may soon recoup some of your money.

    4. It'll equip your newsroom with next generation journalists, ie is versatile journalists who can make films, news packages, podcasts and more.

    5.You're making your own shows - Here at - The Ferrari, War Games, and Brodcastcast quality international reportage -are all part of the portfolio

    Can anyone learn?

    1. Sure, commitment from you and your bosses.

    2. Dedication and determination. As Rob Montgomery would say its's technique not technology.

    3. TV and non TV alike. Visual skills from television or photography will come in handy. Truthfully my background working for some of the best news progs around at e.g. BBC Newsnight, Reportage, and Channel 4 News helps in differentiating between TV and V Jism.

    So what's the fuss about?

    Managers are led to believe it will costs hundreds of thousands of pounds. It doesn't.

    Managers think it's crappy? Well everyone's entitled to their opinion CNN, Sky, BBC, FT, Press Association - all use shoots from VJs.

    Print journalists take to it faily easiily because they're not burden with the dos and don't of TV. In my next film, I'm going to "cross the line" ( an imaginary180 degree line ) but the cut works.

    Pictures by Rob Montgomery from Visual Editors

    Soon - a VJ shoot from the "City of the Dead".

    Thursday, September 06, 2007

    Cairo blogdom

    Series of blogs etc coming up about sharing space with uber video blogger Rob Montgomery.

    We're intendig a double header with video blogging and video journalism and how newspapers can build these into their outout.

    Crucially, we're looking at taking a story and deconstructing it - a very local story hopefully.

    The plan then is to rework a similar story using still and audio from the equipment we have here. Sounds exciting and it looks like it will be.

    Wednesday, September 05, 2007


    Tomorrow will be posting from Cairo and the later on Ghana. The theme exploring IPTV and the surge in newspaper plays

    Tuesday, September 04, 2007

    Open mike - who's up for it

    Marking Masters papers and listening to Radio 4, there's an item on about the new open mikes used by refs that can be heard by the crowd.

    Of course the currency is the pending world cup - that's Rugby

    I was at a Twickenham for a friendly recently and happened to buy a ref-link and record some of the ref's comments with players.

    It makes for interesting listening.

    My favourite is an: "Oy nunber 2 one more of that and you're off. You're beginnning to wind me up. No Shut it"

    The reply is along the lines of: "Yes sir"

    Now could it be that for further entertainment value news organisations could start to release some of the editor's chatter.

    Anyone whose been in a live studio on a breaking news day will know how frenetic things can be.

    "Ask him whether he's going to resign?"

    "Ask him again"

    "Wot that's b**** get the ****** to say why he won't resign"

    Of course often you'll never know. The best presenters can be screamed at and still look unruffled. Often some ignore the editor for effect and instead of asking verbatim what the editors asks, will put their own spin on it.

    My own recollection was for a presnting a pilot prog and having my ear piece fall out. It was a live show, so I couldn't stop, but at the time I thought where's that ear thing gone, by the time I had it in my ear, the floor manager had commenced a 10 second countdown to the credits.

    I hadn't even summed up the show.. Oh dear! Well I'm scrabbled something together. I might post my deficiency some time.

    Open mike? How long till we hear about this in... the making of the programme?

    Mind you if you are recording ambient background sound, whatever you do don't record an orchestra practising without prior permission. There's a famous story of a broadcaster being hammered e.g royalties and "needle time" for merely recording the orchestra tuning before the show.